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Wrist Injury in the White Mountains | Average Hiker

Appalachian Trail – August 24, 2013

I was so excited when I got dropped off last night.  I looked towards the motel rooms as I exited the car and saw a large hairy man hanging out on a bench…Boo Boo!   I went to dinner with him, Sky Pilot, and Cash.  Many thru-hikers end up grouping up at some point along the trail, and these guys had been together for a few weeks – maybe a few months.   Cash was the speedy youngster that set their pace, with the older Sky Pilot and Boo Boo pacing behind.  Sky Pilot was reserved and stoic, probably the level-headed one on the team, while Boo Boo was the candid, outspoken, extroverted pack member that kept everything lively.  One thing was clear.  They were unique personalities that traveled together because they liked each other’s company.  They were all strong, independent hikers with no “need” binding them.

Boo Boo insisted on paying my dinner tab.  I tried to protest, but he would have none of it.  They were a good group of guys.  I wished they were heading south instead of north.  It would have been fun to bump into them again along the trip.

I woke up the next morning with a fat, sore wrist, so I decided I still needed to check it.  I caught the $2 shuttle to Berlin, NH, to get an X-ray.   I had not washed my one set of hiking clothes again, so I put on my sleeping shorts and shirt.  I carry two sets of clothes.  I hike in one set and sleep in the other, relatively clean set.  This means that the hiking set can get fairly “rough.”  I try my best to keep the sleeping set as dry and clean as possible to keep my sleeping bag the same.  When it is cold, I will add a set of lightweight thermals to the wardrobe.   The thermals are also for sleeping.  It has to be brutally cold for me to hike in thermals.   If below freezing, I will usually wear my rain pants and jacket.  These trap heat well, although putting them on in sub-freezing temperatures in the morning can be tough.   I’m southern and have never done well in freezing temperatures.  I usually drag the rain pants and jacket into my bag or quilt in the morning and warm them up while I gnaw on a frozen pop-tart.

The X-ray person and I peered at the photos together, and I informed her it looked just fine. She pointed out a line across the bone and a protruding place on the side of the bone and said it might have a fracture near the wrist.  I looked down at my wrist and moved it around.  Although still sore, would I be able to move it around relatively easily if it was broken?

The Doctor arrived and told me that he thought it was a bad sprain, but he would consult with another radiologist and call me.  Two of the three that looked at the photos were leaning towards a bad sprain, so they put a soft cast on it, and I was advised to ice it and not use it for a few days while the swelling subsided.  Once the swelling came down, I could put weight on it again.  That, for me, was critical, as I often used my arms to skooch down rocks, lowering my old, gangly body, where young twenty-somethings bounded past me, skipping over the rocks.

I returned to the motel, where I tracked Boo Boo, Cash, and Sky Pilot.  I inquired about the section of the Whites from Washington to Moosilake.   Was there a lot of climbing involved?  Was it critical I have two useful hands?  They all agreed that the section of the Whites from Mt, Washington to Mt. Moosilake was not only all downhill but also relatively flat.   I advised them they were all fortunate, as this was the rest of their hike north.  We all laughed at the absurdity of my questions.  This was New Hampshire and the White Mountains.

I planned to lay low for two days, ice the wrist, evaluate the damaged limb on Monday morning, and then probably head back up to Mt. Washington, where I had gotten a hitch down the auto road the previous day.  I was looking forward to finishing the White Mountains of New Hampshire because they were beautiful and I could quit hiking on my hands.

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